Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, MA
This year another anniversary of the opening of the unique Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, MA. Its owner and founder, businessman Gordon Lankton, is now the President of the board of the NYPRO Incorporation, manufacturer of press-forms for thermoplastics for the production of automatons. He owns several companies in Russia and other countries around the world.
One could never call Gordon Lankton’s life ordinary. Born in Illinois, he studied at CornellUniversity as a mechanical engineer, served two years in the army in Germany and then traveled, mostly by motorcycle, through Europe and Asia. He visited twenty three countries in nine months. He wrote a book based on his traveling journal (mostly containing letters to his parents), which you can buy now at the museum’s shop.
Mr. Lankton doesn’t have any Russian roots, he doesn’t speak Russian and he is not an Orthodox, but a Protestant. Where do these interests come from? It’s hard to say; his interest began with his first visit to Russia in 1989 when the Russian history and culture enchanted him. In his opinion, the most influential aspect was Russian victory over Fascism during the WWII.
His first acquaintance with Russian icons was at the time when he bought the first one for $20 as an exotic souvenir from a flea market in Moscow. It is not the most important icon in his collection, but it is a valuable memory and a starting point of this huge number of unique icons at the Museum in Clinton.
Russian culture and history opened up to him more and more as his collection grew. He studied the Biblical subjects of his new collection. Over 50 trips to Russia enriched his knowledge of Russian culture, art and especially icons.
Currently the exposition holds over 120 icons. Among them are unique items, such as the“Tenderness” icon from the 16th century, or” John the Baptizer” from 15th century . Gordon Lankton’s collection today has over 350 icons, “the largest collection of its kind in North America”, and “the largest outside of Russia”.
G. Lankton is planning more and more trips to Europe, where he hopes to acquire new pieces. The collector constantly attends the icons exhibits and private collection in Russia and other countries.
In opening the Museum of Russian Icons in America, Gordon Lankton never imagined such a speed in publicity for this collection: at first in a Russian edition “Krugozor” (www.krugozormagazin.com), then in “The Wall Street Journal” in 11/2008 and other newspapers in English and a great amount of visitors from all over the world.
The word icon is translated from Greek as image, picture. In art history, icons are called representations, executed in frames of Christian tradition (Eastern Orthodox), usually on a wooden board. There are 21 functions of icons and the main one is education. If you closely look at the icons, you will notice that it looks like a “page” or “pages” from the book-“ The Holy Book.” The classification of the icons is extensive enough. It distinguishes icons by the subject, characters, scale of the figure, style, technique, place of origin and lastly, by size.